The dawn strike killed Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, a top leader of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terror network. Also killed were the leader of the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf militants, Umbra Jumdail, and a Singaporean leader in JI, Abdullah Ali, who used the guerrilla name Muawiyah.
COMMENT: An estimated 30 terrorists were at the camp near Parang town on Jolo Island, the stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf and their allies from the mostly Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah, when it was bombarded by two OV10 aircraft at 0300 hours. The rest of the militants in the camp escaped and no one was captured.
The U.S. had offered a $5 million reward for the capture of Marwan, a US-trained engineer accused of involvement in a number of deadly bombings in the Philippines and in the training of new militants.
Pending confirmation by DNA testing, Marwan's death may represent the most important success against JI since the January 2011 arrest of Indonesian suspect Umar Patek in Pakistan's garrison town of Abbottabad, where Osama bin Laden was killed in a US Navy SEAL raid on May 2.
Abu Sayyaf is responsible for numerous ransom kidnappings, bomb attacks and beheadings that have terrorized the southern Philippines for more than two decades.
Most recently, all three of the militant leaders were among the prime suspects in the kidnappings of three Red Cross workers from Switzerland, Italy and the Philippines in 2009. The hostages separately regained their freedom months later, reportedly after large ransom payments.
It is estimated that the current strength of Abu Sayyaf militants is about 400 fighters. They are still considered a key threat to regional security.